Last year, I’d seen a photo in a home decor magazine that became my inspiration for our Thanksgiving table: Oil lamp chimneys with candles burning inside were grouped loosely together with a few scattered fall leaves on an off-white tablecloth. So simple and elegant.
So I found a muslin curtain that I wasn’t using anymore, and it became that simple off-white tablecloth.
Now that I had my “blank canvas,” the fun could begin. And to me, fun is always more fun when I’m saving money. Since I had most of what I needed already on hand, this was a very budget-friendly look to pull together.
Of course I immediately strayed from the magazine photo that had inspired me. I couldn’t resist taking home some huge maples leaves I found on a walk in the park. Maple leaves don’t stay beautiful for very long, so I spray painted mine with Rust-Oleum “Pure Gold” Metallic spray paint.
After they dried, I pressed them, and some other leaves that I’d painted, under glass for a few days.
This was easy since we have a glass piece that covers our dining room table when it’s not extended. But pressing the leaves into a large book or under a heavy board may have worked too.
The Oil Lamp Chimneys
I took a few of the glass chimneys from vintage oil lamps that we’ve collected over the years and put candles inside.
A small glass ramekin served as the base for each one.
In the magazine photo, the chimneys were of varying heights, which is why they looked so beautiful grouped together. But, since my chimneys were more or less the same height, I would be scattering them across the table instead of grouping them.
The reason I loved that magazine photo so much was because, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m usually already wanting to move on from a fall decor look. But it’s too early to set the table for Christmas. This look was such an elegant compromise.
My table ended up looking very different from the photo, but I was still happy with it.
The largest maple leaves became place mats.
Since Thanksgiving comes only once a year, I like to use the good stuff: Real silverware, vintage china, and vintage crystal wine glasses.
A Word Of Caution
At the end of the evening, I discovered that the candles were a little hard to blow out unless I took the chimneys off first, but the chimneys had become veryHOT. I had to use a pot holder to take them off and sometimes, because of the melted candle wax, they were stuck to the ramekin base.
So, just a little warning that, if you try this, be very careful when you handle the hot chimneys, and also keep kids, pets, and flammable items away from them.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
Sloped ceilings can add so much character to a room. But they can also be challenging to work with.
Tricia really made the most of her little A-shaped dormer space with this DIY built-in bed. I love everything about this. Be sure to check out her before photos!
Mandi calls her trailer, The Nugget, “the cutest vintage trailer on the internet.” And I can’t argue with that.
Check out The Nugget’s Reveal and you’ll fall in love too. The interior photos start about halfway through the post, and there are a lot of charming details to see here. My favorite little detail is the kitchen faucet.
Yes, beauty in the form of luxury furniture and accessories!
One King’s Lane has reached out to let me know about their Labor Day sale from 8/31/17 – 9/5/17, when they are offering a site-wide discount of 20%! And on Monday only, 9/4, they are offering free shipping in addition to the sale. Just use the code “OKLSHIPSEPT”. Prices on all eligible items will be as marked, and some exclusions apply.
Enjoy the Summer!
Now I’m off to take a late-summer blogging break, but let’s meet back here on the second Tuesday in September. Thanks so much for visiting today, and enjoy your summer!
My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people. We tend to plan and think things through – usually. But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.
And so was our recent trip back east.
It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession: Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.
I booked our flights before he could change his mind.
But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention. That would be silly. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor
I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises. Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me: Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.
So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.
I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip. I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered: Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.
But it was more gentrified than that: Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.
Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.
The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.
As national parks go, Acadia is small. But there’s a lot to see. On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.
We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.
And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.
We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet. We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.
I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.
The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.
We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.
We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond. John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.
And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.
This part of Maine smells so good. Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.
The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine. There are several L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again: That smell of balsam fir. So I bought it to take home.
I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.
We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store. It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.
But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.
All Things Coleman
We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon. Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.
Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story building with dingy linoleum floors.
Here is what I found.
The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.
In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.
From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.
We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center. It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.
But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.
We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history. This is where it all began for the United States.
On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.
We toured the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.
Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy. And she fought pirates.
No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard. We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!
I loved the timing of our Boston visit: Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.
And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.
So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!
Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable. They don’ take up much space to store or display. Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman. Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns. Please use caution and do your research.
The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique. But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage. It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.
Little Room – Big Embarrassment
The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really – to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.
So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was. (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)
The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room. So that really limits wall space. In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.
But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch. And some time later, the porch was enclosed and became a mudroom.
Our mudroom makeover has taken months. Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.
The mudroom was in rough condition. This corner was the worst part.
I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak. For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets. Since the mudroom can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.
The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting. We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.
Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.
The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day. But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.
Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.
We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.
So Chris made these beautiful shelves.
He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges. Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.
It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.
We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.
The wire baskets hold hats and gloves. The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet. It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.
Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.
The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:
The Shoe Solution
Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense. But here is how our shoe situation was before. Not good!
And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.
Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that. It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.
And now we wait until mid-July for the installation. In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.
But there is something new and exciting. My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.
We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space. This corner cabinet is our best option. And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.
It fits nicely under the window. The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall. But it’s already looking perfect for the space.
Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing. Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel. And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.
So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base. And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.
And my brother rocks.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
Are we already in August? As usual, the summer is going by too fast, and now we only have a few weeks left – with so much we want to do. So I’ve decided to put this blog down for a little late-summer nap. While it’s sleeping, I’ll be working on projects to share with you in September. At least that’s the plan.
And since this is my last post until then, I have all kinds of things to show you.
I had to work fast because it was warm in there and I didn’t want the roses to wither. I came up with these three arrangements.
Thriller, Filler, Spiller
The old thriller-filler-spiller technique used in container gardening also works well for floral arrangements.
Thriller: Red roses
Filler: Lady’s mantle flowers (Alchemilla mollis or Alchemilla vulgaris)
Spiller: Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)
I love the fresh green of the lady’s mantle flowers as a substitute for fillers like baby’s breath. The crimson-tasseled annual called love-lies-bleeding adds a little drama and works nicely with the color of the vintage glass vase.
A couple of years ago, I noticed that my husband, Chris, was spending a lot of time at his computer looking at vintage Christmas lights. At dinner that was all he talked about . . . C-9 bulbs, C-6 bulbs, swirl bulbs, cloth-wrapped cords. It was no surprise when boxes began arriving at the door. Chris was starting a vintage Christmas light collection.
Soon our house was softly glowing with warm vintage color. Since this is one of the prettiest collections we have – not only the lights but their sweet retro packaging – I thought it would be fun to share just a few of his most prized pieces.
Early NOMA Lights
NOMA* (which stands for National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association) was an American company which began in 1925 as a trade group of small manufacturers. Through the mid-1900s, it was the leading U.S. manufacturer of Christmas lights.
NOMA’s early offerings had cloth-wrapped cords. This set was manufactured in the 1930s or 1940s.
If only we could find modern lights that have truly independently-burning bulbs, a washer for each Bakelite socket, and cute adjustable berry beads to hold each individual light in place on the tree.
The C-7 bulbs have soft, attractive colors.
And I just love these cute fluted C-6 bulbs from the same era.
Mid-Century Christmas Lights
In the 1940s, NOMA introduced all-rubber cords. Fused safety plugs came in 1951. What a concept!
The fuses for the Bakelite plugs were replaceable. I would be happy just to collect the adorable, tiny boxes that the spare fuses came in.
Another brilliant innovation was the patented process of painting the ceramic glass bulbs on the inside instead of the outside to eliminate paint chipping.
These are C-9 swirl bulbs – classic large outdoor bulbs. There were two manufacturers of swirl bulbs – primarily GE, and to a lesser extent, Westinghouse. Stamps can be found on some of the bulbs.
They are beautiful lighted.
The Icing on the Cake
I saved the best for last: This pristine set of never-lit circa 1955 outdoor “Safety Plug” lights.
And they never will be lit – as long as Chris owns them anyway. So now that we have had a look, the lid is going back on the box. Show’s over folks.
Actually, vintage Christmas lights can be a surprisingly affordable collectible. Of course the more valuable sets still have their original packaging with everything in good condition.
It’s back to school season – time for a basic course in flower frogs. Why flower frogs? In part because the holidays are just around the corner and a good centerpiece starts with the right frog. But mostly because I enjoy collecting vintage flower frogs. And now I want to talk about them.
How a Frog Collection Starts
A while back, I inherited a few vintage flower frogs from my mother-in-law, Betty. One was an ancient-looking, tiny spike frog measuring only 1-1/2 inches in diameter. It intrigued me, especially in contrast to the largest of Betty’s frogs, an obviously much-used glass frog measuring 5 inches in diameter.
It started me thinking about how much variety there is in the world of vintage frogs – all the different sizes, shapes, and designs. I began seeking them out.
Types of Frogs
There are countless flower frog designs out there, but most frogs fall loosely into one of these categories:
Usually made of wire, mesh, or metal, cage frogs are very popular.
The green frog on the left is a Dazey Flower Holder with a patent date of 1918. The copper colored frog on the right is unmarked and has a suction cup on the bottom.
But cage frogs need not be placed only on the bottom of a vase. If the circumference of the vase works for it and the vase is sufficiently weighted at the bottom, these frogs can be wedged at or near the top for better control of the flowers.
Popular mason jar frog lids are also a form of cage frog. As the name suggests, they fit on top of a mason jar, taking the place of the lid and turning the mason jar into a vase with a built-in frog.
But I will show you later in this post how to make your own temporary frog that works similarly for any vase.
Glass or Crystal Frogs
Glass or crystal frogs are great because they are usually weighty and stay in place. Some, like those made of depression glass, are also very decorative.
I acquired the frog in the photo below because it is unusual: The center hole is larger than the perimeter holes, so one large and showy flower stem can be placed in the center, surrounded by smaller stems – or so I thought.
But I wondered why the large center hole is not cut all the way through. An observant reader solved the mystery: It is so that it could be used to hold a candle.
I have yet to use this frog, but am looking forward to the possibilities.
I did use a glass frog in this centerpiece.
For practical use, these are by far my favorites because they allow more versatility when arranging flowers, and they are excellent at holding stems exactly where I want them.
I recently acquired the frog to the far left at an estate sale. Its rectangular shape is unusual, and the base is early plastic instead of metal. The stamp on the bottom is intriguing.
It’s hard to read, but the bottom line says it’s made in California. How often do we see that these days?
My favorite spike frog is the tiny one I mentioned earlier. It works great in shallow bowls and was the glue holding these three arrangements together.
Wire frogs are nice for arranging flowers in a uniform height and spread. My mom, Erika, used a wire frog for this arrangement.
Vintage ceramic frogs are very decorative in their own right, and some are made by well-known pottery studios such as Weller Pottery.
While on a road trip recently, we stopped at an antique store. When I saw this frog, I suddenly heard the words “I need this for my frog collection” tumble out of my mouth.
The proprietor looked amused that anyone would have a frog collection.
DIY Temporary Frogs
These are not vintage frogs. In fact they aren’t really frogs at all. But I just thought I would share a couple of work-arounds that I use when I don’t have the right frog for the job.
For instance, getting back to those mason jar frog lids, what if you don’t have one, or what if you want use something other than a mason jar? Say you have a pretty glass vase and you don’t want the frog to show through. No problem – just create a tape grid on top of the vase as I did for these two arrangements.
When not holding a floral arrangement together, these little superheros can serve many purposes. Glass frogs make great paperweights. Ceramic, glass, and cage frogs can hold pencils, pens, makeup brushes, small tools, small paintbrushes and other art supplies. Spike frogs can double as stands for business cards, post cards, and place cards at formal dinners.
If you’ve read this far, then you’ve earned an A in Flower Frogs 101. Want an A+? Leave a comment with your own creative use for flower frogs.
Vintage flower frogs are collectible but a savvy shopper can still find them at bargain prices. You can find so many fun and unusual flower frogs on Etsy.
Since this is the time of year when we are all thinking about green beer and leprechauns, I thought I would share my century-old Irish-German-American shamrocks.
This delicate Irish-inspired china set came from my mother-in-law, Betty, who had a keen eye for special pieces.
How is it Irish-German-American?
Most of the pieces have a single gold stamp on the bottom that show that they are Pickard, an American maker of fine china. The mark was used between 1912 (the year the Titanic sank) and 1918.
So what we have here is an Irish-inspired American china set, right?
Except that the larger plates have two marks.
This particular Thomas Bavaria mark was used from 1908 until 1939.
And with a little more research, I learned that this pattern was retired in 1915. And then I knew I had a century-old Irish-German-American china set.
But Two Marks? What is Going On Here?
The Pickard china company (founded in 1893 and still in business today) at one time imported china from Europe and Japan. One of their suppliers was Thomas.
Pickard then hand-painted and gold-gilded the china in their Chicago location. They employed notable artists and did many art pieces as well as china sets. Their work was imaginative, beautiful, and detailed. Small variations in the hand work set it apart from machine work.
You can see here with the salt and pepper shakers that the height of the gold band varies, something that was probably not planned.
The cups and saucers have so much character and beautiful color.
By the time these pieces were made, the Thomas china company in Bavaria was an independent subsidiary of Rosenthal. Thomas had only been in operation for a few years before their beautiful work caught Rosenthal’s attention. Different incarnations of the Thomas mark endured until at least 1977.
But during the world wars, Pickard could not import their china. They moved their operations to Antioch so that they could begin to manufacture their own pieces. They have a long history of supplying china to the U.S. government as well as foreign dignitaries.
My set (really a partial set) comes with some fun pieces. I love the heart-shaped handle on the sugar bowl lid.
I have one little egg cup. So cute!
And an interesting little footed bowl.
Since there are no dinner plates, my set could be a dessert or tea set.
But that doesn’t explain what appears to be a gravy bowl among the serving pieces.
I do use these pieces on special occasions, but as you can imagine I handle them very carefully.
This is all from Betty’s collection, but I am playing with the idea of adding to this set. While not a dime a dozen, I can still find some pieces on the internet.
It was interesting to learn the history behind this set. These old things we have in our homes often have a hidden history waiting to be discovered. What do you have in your china cabinet?
Here are some other stunning examples of Pickard china from Etsy.